Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More looking up

with 16 comments

As you’ve already seen, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 11th I lifted my telephoto zoom lens to photograph a neon skimmer dragonfly. Earlier in our visit I’d lain on a mat on the ground to aim up with my macro lens at something much lower: the jimsonweed flower you see here, Datura wrightii. I rarely convert to black and white, but in this series of pictures I was having trouble getting the sky to look a natural blue. Out of curiosity, I tried monochrome on one frame, as shown below.

◊       ◊       ◊

I’ve already read and recommended two books that treat climate change as real but nothing to get hysterical about, as so many activists and politicians have unfortunately done:

Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why it Matters, by Steven E. Koonin.

Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, by Michael Shellenberger.

Now I’ve become aware of a third book that also treats the subject rationally: False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, by Bjørn Lomborg.

In addition to or instead of reading Lomborg’s book, you can watch a one-hour interview with him about climate change.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2021 at 4:33 AM

16 Responses

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  1. The black and white conversion brings out the textures in the petals in a different way. Nice depth of field.


    September 27, 2021 at 8:00 AM

    • The way I ensured good depth of field was by using flash so I could stop down to f/22. Otherwise, at that angle, I wouldn’t have been able to get the near and far parts of the flower in focus simultaneously.

      The conversion suppressed the dark element on the left side of the narrow end of the “trumpet,” which I didn’t mind in the original but that some viewers might have found distracting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2021 at 8:16 AM

  2. Datura is a delight to photograph. Plenty of it here too, as it happens every end of summer. Not long ago someone here on WordPress wrote a post about why we should not have photography workshops, to curb global warming. I dared to reply and it did not go well. I’m obviously concerned with the obvious changes in climate we have observed, but I also don’t think that everything should be blamed on it. Sometimes a problem can be dealt with locally.

    Alessandra Chaves

    September 27, 2021 at 8:27 AM

    • S.S. (me) took advantage of the D.D. (Datura delight). While I was photographing those jimsonweed flowers a couple a little farther away were looking at the plant but didn’t know what it was. I told them, and also pointed out that it’s poisonous.

      As you’re aware, some of the people who claim to be most alarmed about global warming and who admonish everyone to cut back on carbon-producing pastimes don’t hesitate to fly around in private jets, like Al Gore and John Kerry. The former of those two lives in a 4000-sq.ft. house. Not to be outdone, Barack Obama lives in a seven-bedroom, 6,892-square-foot mansion. Two more examples of “profligacy for me but penury for thee.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2021 at 8:44 AM

      • There are people who are well meaning and concerned, who do cut back on everything in their lives and expect others to do so, to a certain extent, but fail to see where some of their decisions fall short of solving the problem. For example, vegans who point the finger at meat eaters on behalf of climate change, often eat imported products to fulfill their protein needs, for instance quinoa from the Andes. I do think that the global industry needs to increase efforts to curb energy use, pollute less and do things more efficiently, and to the extent that it is possible, each of us need to do that too.

        LOL I know everything about Al Gore’s excesses. I used go out photographing with a Republican photo peep who hated riding in my Prius and every time I gave him a ride he would point out that, although it’s a shitty car, it can go fast: according to him, Al Gore was caught going 90 mph in one.

        Alessandra Chaves

        September 27, 2021 at 9:59 AM

        • Now that surprises me: Al Gore driving 90 mph in any car. The fastest I ever drove was back in 1964, in a 1954 Buick V8. On a mostly empty Interstate in the middle of Maine I pushed to see how fast the 10-year-old car could go. As the speed got faster and faster the car rattled and made lots of noise, but it managed to reach 110 mph. Needless to say, I didn’t get good gas mileage with that big old car.

          I just went to the mailbox and found my copy of Bjørn Lomborg’s False Alarm waiting for me. If it has some particularly good facts, comments, or recommendations, I may quote them in future posts.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 27, 2021 at 10:52 AM

          • “ Now that surprises me: Al Gore driving 90 mph in any car.” 😂

            Alessandra Chaves

            September 27, 2021 at 10:55 AM

          • The Prius is fuel efficient on highways at an average of 55-65 mph, if you go fast, it defeats the purpose. Somehow around here the Prius has become a symbol of liberal hypocritical behavior and some Republicans get upset when they see a Prius on the highway backing up traffic 😂. Gasoline is very expensive in CA and I’ve been guilty of trying to save $$. My car is sure more efficient than my husband’s, a Subaru, but I think modern low budget Toyota that are not hybrids are fuel efficient at higher speeds 😂. My next car won’t be a Prius …

            Alessandra Chaves

            September 27, 2021 at 11:03 AM

            • I’m aware of the attitude that some conservatives have toward Priuses, which quickly became “virtue signals” for some people on the political left. And speaking of that direction, I get upset when any driver insists on staying in the left lane and driving below the speed of the prevailing traffic, which then gets backed up.

              If a company can come out with a car that’s as roomy as a Subaru Outback but gets gas mileage close[r] to that of a Prius, I’m all for it. For whatever reason, Subaru resisted developing a hybrid, but I just checked and found it now offers a hybrid version of the Crosstrek, the smallest of its three SUV-type cars:


              Maybe that would be suitable for your next car.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 27, 2021 at 11:24 AM

  3. The b&w version is really nice. It happens often that the blue in the sky is too vivid. Sometimes desaturating the blues just doesn’t work, does it?


    September 27, 2021 at 8:43 AM

    • Right on (as we used to say in the late 1960s). I played around with desaturating the blue sky in Photoshop, but that tended to make the picture look washed out. The color version I showed here is the best one I got, and it seems okay. Occasionally I’ve gone ahead and shown (and will again) photographs with a preturnaturally vivid sky, making the argument that it isn’t realistic, but then neither are the colors in so much of modern painting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2021 at 8:50 AM

  4. The blue looks good as a background for this macro shot from below but you are right. I also like the monochrome version better.

    Peter Klopp

    September 27, 2021 at 9:34 AM

    • Thanks for letting me know your preference. I often have a blue sky as a background, so the second view offers variety.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2021 at 10:08 AM

  5. To be honest, that “dark element on the left side of the narrow end of the “trumpet” was one of the things that immediately appealed to me in the first photo. To my eye, the texture of the petals shows more clearly in the first photo, and the color of that particular sky combines well with the very slight brownish tinge to the flower. The b&w seems a little flat, but of course I have a natural preference for color.


    September 28, 2021 at 7:07 AM

    • Ah hah: an attraction to dark elements. I remember when you wondered whether my increased frequency of dark backgrounds beginning last year symbolized something societal. If there’s truth in that—and there well may be—today’s second photograph could symbolize hope emerging from the darkness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2021 at 8:21 AM

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